word order: there's (not) a dog in the garden

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Serafín33, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    I have a question about word order in fuS7a. I've learned that this kinds of "existential" sentences with indefinite nouns, i.e. sentences where you say that "there is a (person or thing) in (some place)", you generally add the location before:

    في الحديقة كلب.‏

    Is it also perfectly possible to say "هناك كلب في الحديقة"?

    Does this strong tendency regarding word order also apply in negations? I.e. "ليس في الحديقة كلب", or is it perfectly possible to say "ليس كلب في الحديقة"?

    What about questions? هل في الحدقة كلب؟/هل كلب في الحديقة؟
    أليس في الحديقة كلب؟/أليس كلب في الحديقة؟

    Hopefully I'm not putting too many questions for one thread here. :)
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  2. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    ليس negates sentences so ليس كلب في الحديقة doesn't work.
    Same for هل.
    The rest work.
  3. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    It's fine because they're all related to the sentence as given in the thread title and initial question.:)

    I'm not clear though about إسكندراني's reason for dismissing ليس كلب في الحديقة. It sounds wrong to me but I'm not a native speaker, though I'm not sure why it's wrong. For example, we can say ليس الرجل مهندسًا, can we not? Doesn't ليس act as a verb for الرجل? Couldn't ليس act as a verb for كلبٌ? Wouldn't the distinction between ليس كلبٌ في الحديقة and ليس في الحديقة كلبٌ be the same as English "A dog is not in the garden" and "There is not a dog in the garden"? Is there something I'm missing?
  4. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I believe the reason it seems wrong is that generally, a mubtada in a simple equational sentence is supposed to be definite. So كلب في الحديقة would not be appropriate (I'm sure you would agree that that also sounds wrong, or at least odd), but you could say الكلب في الحديقة. If, however your subject is indefinite, or you want to have an indefinite subject in an equational sentence, then you must switch the two elements; that is, you must front (تقدم) the khabar and delay (تؤخر) the mubtada. So, then you say في الحديقة كلب.
    ليس, being one of the أخوات كان, is a deficient verb (فعل ناقص), and as such is merely added to an equational sentence. All the normal word order rules of equational sentences still apply. So when you have a simple equational sentence with reversed elements such as في الحديقة كلب, you will retain the same when word order when adding a deficient verb -- ليس في الحديقة كلب.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  5. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Aha! So it matters even then. Thanks.
    Does "a dog is not in the garden" make sense to you? It doesn't to me at least. It would need to be "there's no dog in the garden" or maybe "no dog is in the garden". I'm sure *un perro no está en el jardín doesn't in Spanish at least, nor does Chinese admit *(一只)狗不在花园里, so it doesn't surprise me that Arabic doesn't admit "ليس كلب في الحديقة". I guess that it just happens that some languages don't admit an indefinite subject in this particular situation (negated existential sentences) at least, or in the case of Arabic, so close to the beginning of the sentence...
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  6. Ghabi

    Ghabi AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod

    Hong Kong
    It doesn't make sense to me too.

    I think so.

    "狗不在花园里" is okay, but it means "the dog is not in the garden". For "there's no dog in the garden", we have to say 花园里沒有狗. You see it's just that in Chinese as in Arabic, the mubtaba2/topic is by definition definite. The difference is only that a definite article is used in Arabic, but not in Chinese.
  7. Xence Senior Member

    Algeria (Arabic - French)
    It applies in both affirmative and negative forms. In fact, the inversion of the word order is mandatory here, as the rule goes (among other cases):
  8. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Oh right, I should have clarified that that only applies when you want to make the dog of indefinite reference...
    Very much!
  9. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    What about verbal sentences such as below which employ laisa? It seems it is not used just in equational sentences.

    أ ليس النبي قد مات

    لست أقصد الحرب

    If these sentences are correct, could laisa be substituted for another negative particle? Or, does laisa impart here a different kind of negative significance?
  10. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I never said that the verb ليس wasn't used in other situations. In this thread I was just relating how it is used with "simple equational sentences." By that I meant a sentence comprised of only two nouns (e.g. الكلب كبير) or a sentence with two nouns and a preposition (such as the one in question in this thread). This type of sentence can be likened to an equation of sorts (الكلب = كبير), hence the name.

    Equational sentences, or perhaps more properly called nominal sentences, can actually be more complex. "النبي قد مات" is actually a nominal sentence. For the reason why it is syntactically considered a nominal sentence and not a verbal sentence, you can see this thread (particularly my post #7). If the explantion there is not satisfactory, you can open a new thread (as this is really off topic for this thread) and I, or perhaps someone else, will (try to) explain it in more detail.

    As for "لست أقصد الحرب," yes, the verb can be used similarly to a حرف نفي, in the case of أقصد, a present tense verb, it is لا. As for whether there is a difference in meaning...that's also a discussion for another thread.:)
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011
  11. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    To sum up:
    هل ، ليس must be followed by sentences.
    كلب في الحديقة is not a sentence but في الحديقة كلب is a sentence, because of the rule mentioned by Xence.

    I think British English might accept 'a dog is not in the Garden' at least archaically, but many other languages do not, including Arabic, which requires 'there is not in the garden a dog' ordering.
  12. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    On page 191 of "A Grammar of Classical Arabic" by Wolfdietrich Fischer, there are following examples listed.

    الجارية في البيت

    في البيت جارية

    من في البيت؟

    جارية في البيت
  13. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Yes, Qureshpor. You posted this exact same post in at least 2 other threads. So, what's your question or opinion? :)
  14. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Apologies Cherine. I should have been more explicit.

    What I am implying is that in Classical Arabic, an indefinite noun as subject is possible in certain circumstances, e.g, as an answer to a question. At least this is how it appears to me.
  15. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    I disagree; this is not a sentence, and I have never encountered such a sentence.
  16. Abu Talha Senior Member

    Wright lists in vol. 2, §127(h), p. 262D one of the exceptions to a definite subject: "When the subject is the answer to a question, its predicate being suppressed; as when one asks مَنْ عِنْدَكَ who is in thy house? and receives a reply, رَجُلٌ a man, scil. عِنْدِي."

    The difference, however, in your sentence is that the predicate is not suppressed. But Wright also says in Rem. a. of the same section that "The subject may also be indefinite in some cases in which a strong emphasis rests upon it; as شَيْءٌ جَاءَ بِكَ SOMETHING has brought thee, ...

    So this may be applicable in your sentence.
  17. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you. Fischer's "A Grammar of the Classical Arabic" (page 191 section 366) does not mention anything about suppression. After the question, full sentence is quoted...and I quote.


    man fi_l baiti

    Who is in the room?

    And analagously in the reply

    jaariyat-un fi_lbaiti

    A maid is in the room


    The important thing to note is that this kind of usage is attested in Classical Arabic. Another example in 369b, p192 is..

    amr-un 2anaa fii talab-in minhu mundhu 3ishriina sanat-an

    A certain thing I have been seeking for twenty years.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  18. Abu Talha Senior Member

    It is possible that suppression not be required, but just permissible. This site, for instance, says:

    ومن النكرات التي يسوغ الابتداء بها أيضا : ـ
    6 ـ أن تأتي النكرة جوابا لمن يسأل : من عندك ؟ فتقول : صديق .

    التقدير : صديق عندي .

    The تقدير , I assume, is supposed to be a valid sentence.
  19. Abu Talha Senior Member

    It's certainly very interesting. The sentence (both in English and Arabic) seems to require an existential "there is" which is implied.

    Wright does mention in vol. 2, §127, Rem b., p. 263D, the analysis of the Quranic فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ. He says "the Arab commentators are right in regarding the words either as a compound خبر ... or as a compound مبتدأ ." I'll try reading some tafsirs and his reference to Sibawayh to get some more understanding about deleted subjects and predicates.
  20. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ On second thought, it does not appear to be a complete sentence..

    amr-un 2anaa fii talab-in minhu mundhu 3ishriina sanat-an

    A certain thing I have been seeking for twenty years (still aludes me)

    All this could be construed as "adjective".

    Where would sentences with the "maf3uul" fit in?

    mamnuu3-un at-tadxiin (Smoking is prohibited)

    matluub-un muhandis-un li_l3amal fii_lkuwaiti (An engineer is required to work in Kuwait)
  21. Abu Talha Senior Member


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